Albert B. Chandler

Historical Marker #2309 in Henderson County commemorates former Kentucky Governor Albert B. "Happy" Chandler. During two terms in the governor's office, Chandler oversaw improvements in schools, roads, health and welfare programs, and penal institutions.

Chandler was born on July 14, 1898, near Corydon, Kentucky, to Joseph and Callie Chandler. His childhood, however, was marred with tragedy when his mother abandoned the family when he was a young child. In addition, his only brother was killed when Albert was sixteen.

Chandler graduated from Corydon High School in 1917, and enrolled at Transylvania University, where he excelled in football, baseball, basketball, and track. There, he received the lasting nickname "Happy." After earning a bachelor's degree from Transylvania, he enrolled at Harvard Law School, where he studied for a year. In 1925, however, he graduated from the University of Kentucky law school. That same year, Chandler married Mildred Watkins, and they had four children. After law school, Chandler opened his first practice in Versailles. He also assisted high school and college sports teams in the area.

Chandler's career in public office began with his election to the state senate in 1929 and his election as lieutenant governor in 1931. Chandler began his first term as the nation's youngest governor in 1935, and his term was considered to be one of the most productive in the state's history. Reforms during his first term include a free textbook program, participation in a federal rural electrification program, establishment of a teacher's retirement program, along with erasing much of the state's debt. Between gubernatorial terms, Chandler served as a United States Senator and as the national commissioner of baseball.

Chandler was overwhelmingly elected to a second term as governor, assuming office in 1955. During this term, major improvements were made in the highway department, as well as public schools. Chandler also made national headlines when he used state police and National Guardsmen to enforce desegregation in the public school system.

Chandler died June 15, 1991, at his home in Versailles, but not before publishing his autobiography, "Heroes, Plain Folks, and Skunks."

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